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‘Don’t bargain over the price, ask for GI label’: Govt steps up drive against fake Kashmir Pashmina

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Srinagar: From posters to billboards and from radio jingles to videos, the J&K government has launched a massive awareness campaign to help buyers in identifying originals from fake Kashmiri Pashmina.

“Don’t ask for a bargain price, ask for an authentication label” – reads a government poster advising buyers to only go for original Kashmiri Pashmina with Geographical Indication (GI) tags.

Despite high pitch campaign, the government has tested only 4500 Pashmina shawls for GI tagging so far.

“To clear the confusion of how to get pure and authentic Pashmina, GI tags are issued for the shawls. We have embarked on a campaign for the promotion of Pashmina and in this regard, we have already put up hoardings at the airport. We have also launched social media handles and where we are streaming videos and we are also making a radio jingle so that we are able to make people aware. So far, only 4500 shawls have been tested for GI tagging,” Director, Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah told The Kashmir Monitor.

He said the government will also go for enforcement later. “We have to make customers aware of what GI means. I have also mobilized my staff and issued a circular to counter misbranding. We will drop the handout at each outlet and later we will go for enforcement,” said Shah, who recently took over as Director, Handicrafts and Handloom, Kashmir.

Pashmina Testing and Quality Certification Centre, manager Yunus Farooq said GI tags were issued after checking four points.

“We test Pashmina so that we can distinguish between original, mechanized, and blended products. We check if the material is 100 percent Pashmina or not and if the fiber has 16-micron thickness…if the thread is hand-spun and if the shawl is hand woven or not. In the market, you will find handmade/ hand-spun (shawls), machine weaved/ machine-spun, and machine-spun/ handwoven besides blended products,” he said.

He said the GI tags issued by the Certification Centre can be verified online at http://www.kashmirpashmina.secure-ga.com.

“Every GI tag contains a numerical code. Customers can verify the code online. If the product is patented under the name of an artisan, his/ her name too will appear. Our testing facility is available for all including artisans, manufacturers, or customers,” he said.